Ateneo girding for UP in their battle of top teams

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Ateneo Lady Eagles
The Ateneo Lady Eagles are expecting a tough fight against the UP Lady Fighting Maroons in their battle of UAAP Season 81 top teams on March 10. -- ALVIN S. GO

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

THE Ateneo Lady Eagles battle Katipunan neighbors University of the Philippines Lady Fighting Maroons this weekend in a marquee match between two top teams in the ongoing University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament.

A team it currently shares the top spot with a 3-1 record, Ateneo said it is looking forward to its match on Sunday, March 10, with UP, which is coming in on a high following a huge five-sets win over defending champions De La Salle Lady Spikers in its last game.

“We saw their game against La Salle and I give them credit for the win. They played well and prepared well. They really stood up to La Salle to get the momentum and win. Ever since they play like that. They are always fighting. I congratulated [UP] coach (Godfrey) Okumu right away,” said Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro, whose wards are set to face the Lady Maroons in the scheduled 4 p.m. match at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.

Ateneo is also on an upswing, having won its last three assignments to make its way to the top.

The Lady Eagles’ last victory was a clinical disposal of the University of the East Lady Warriors in three sets, 25-15, 25-21 and 25-16, on March 3.

But despite on a roll themselves, Mr. Almadro said their work is cut out for them against UP and that they have to play at their best to get the better of the Lady Maroons in the UAAP’s “Battle of Katipunan.”

“UP is next for us. We will work hard. We will work harder. We know they are riding a big momentum but we just have to believe in ourselves. We will give UP a good fight,” said the Ateneo coach, who is in his first year of handling the Lady Eagles in the UAAP.

Team leading scorer Kat Tolentino has the same view of UP but said they are treating the match as another game that they have to prepare hard for.

“UP is a strong team and I’m just looking forward to our match on Sunday and see what happens. We don’t want to get too hyped or too nervous about it. We are looking at them as just another team we have to take on and prepare hard for,” said the opposite hitter who is averaging a team-high 17.5 points for Ateneo.

Backstopping Tolentino in the scoring department are Maddie Madayag (11.3 points) and Jules Samonte (6.8 points).

Playing in the first game at 2 p.m. on Sunday are the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws (3-2) against the Adamson Lady Falcons (1-3).

Meanwhile, scheduled to play on Saturday, March 9, also at the FilOil Flying V Arena, are La Salle (3-2) versus UE (1-4) at 2 p.m. and the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses (3-2) against the National University Lady Bulldogs (1-3) at 4 p.m.